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Tools for Assessing Nausea, Vomiting, and Retching: A Literature Review

Wood, Janelle M. MSN, RN, OCN; Chapman, Kathleen BSN, RN; Eilers, June PhD, APRN-CNS, BC

Cancer Nursing:
doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e3181e2cd79
Articles: Online Only
Abstract

Background: Chemotherapy-induced nausea, vomiting, and retching are recognized as having an impact on patients' overall physical well-being, quality of life, and treatment decisions. Although there are many tools available to measure aspects of these symptoms, few offer a complete and concise clinical assessment.

Objective: The purpose of this article was to provide a comprehensive overview of the various instruments available for the assessment of cancer-related nausea, vomiting, and retching. Analysis included symptoms measured, period evaluated, type of questions posed, and aspects of each symptom measured.

Methods: Searches were conducted to find relevant articles using nationally recognized oncology Web sites and 4 electronic databases including PubMed, MEDLINE/CINAHL and CINAHL/EBSCO, and Cochrane.

Results: This review includes a total of 25 instruments that were identified as meeting the inclusion criteria of having been developed, or adapted, for the adult population, with an oncology focus.

Conclusion: The ideal instrument would include measurement of all 3 symptoms while remaining clear, concise, and clinically relevant.

Implications for Practice: Although only 1 instrument came close to meeting these criteria, this review provides nurses with specific information on a variety of instruments to assist providers in selecting the most appropriate instrument for their specific clinical setting. This comprehensive critique of instruments is important for nurses attempting to select a tool to guide optimum care for patients in the clinical setting.

In Brief

Background: Chemotherapy-induced nausea, vomiting, and retching are recognized as having an impact on patients' overall physical well-being, quality of life, and treatment decisions. Although there are many tools available to measure aspects of these symptoms, few offer a complete and concise clinical assessment. Objective: The purpose of this article was to provide a comprehensive overview of the various instruments available for the assessment of cancer-related nausea, vomiting, and retching. Analysis included symptoms measured, period evaluated, type of questions posed, and aspects of each symptom measured. Methods: Searches were conducted to find relevant articles using nationally recognized oncology Web sites and 4 electronic databases including PubMed, MEDLINE/CINAHL and CINAHL/EBSCO, and Cochrane. Results: This review includes a total of 25 instruments that were identified as meeting the inclusion criteria of having been developed, or adapted, for the adult population, with an oncology focus. Conclusions: The ideal instrument would include measurement of all 3 symptoms while remaining clear, concise, and clinically relevant. Implications for Practice: Although only 1 instrument came close to meeting these criteria, this review provides nurses with specific information on a variety of instruments to assist providers in selecting the most appropriate instrument for their specific clinical setting. This comprehensive critique of instruments is important for nurses attempting to select a tool to guide optimum care for patients in the clinical setting.

Author Information

Author Affiliations: The Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha.

Correspondence: Janelle M. Wood, MSN, RN, OCN, 5804 S 166 St, Omaha, NE 68135 (jwood@nebraskamed.com).

Accepted for publication April 12, 2010.

© 2011 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.